Community members understand the challenges they face in ways that an outside individual or organization cannot. So, the community development agenda and priorities must ultimately be established and driven by the community. We place the responsibility for providing leadership in the development process squarely in the hands of respected and trustworthy local community leaders who adopt a participatory approach that includes and provides representation for the community at large.
In too many cases communities have come to believe that hope for growth, change, and development rests solely within the power of individuals and organizations external to the community. Over the years the sense of “community efficacy” has been undermined, but we approach our work reminding leaders and residents that they must take responsibility for the desired change and development.
The community-driven approach does not suggest that outside support is not needed. Underserved communities need access to funding and capacity building support, but the local leadership must be responsible for organizing themselves to effectively direct the use of the resources and monitor progress when initiatives are undertaken.
Clearly, the resources needed will originate from a variety of sources, both local and overseas. However, we believe that there is a special role for the Jamaican diaspora to play in providing support to Jamaica’s underserved, high-risk communities. We believe that a diaspora-supported, community-driven approach at the community level can go a far way in providing much needed support to the efforts of community-driven social intervention initiatives.